Me: Hey~ I know I really should be updating my other fics, but I don't know, this was all I could do. I don't know if this is the best it could be, but...I like it :) But if I change my mind, this one-shot could just turn into a mutli-chaptered fic or I could completely re-edit...But I'm maudlin. Wow, such a pointless A/N and none of the characters have really jumped out and yelled something. Meh.

Vachlan: She doesn't own.

Me: WHY DO I NEVER GET TO SAY THE DAMNED DISCLAIMER?

Vachlan: Because you talk too much.

Me: Asshole.

Callder: BURNNNNN!

Vachlan: Shut up...

Me: *dancing* I did it~ Alright, enjoy~


Visola stared out at the vast, infinite expanse of sea before her. Now, the ocean felt like it never had before. It felt like a dark, yearning abyss hungering for life to make its own. It seemed to echo with the emptiness, the void left of her heart. Painful words that start with 'v' and relate to my current situation…let's see. Void, Venomous, Vicious…

Distinctive and expressive viridian eyes that held enough pain to paralyze closed, veiled from the world by delicate eyelids. Fiery lashes contrasted against light skin as she tried to shut it out. Visola couldn't, wouldn't, think of him again. Never again, she swore to herself all the while knowing how futile, how terribly pointless it was. A waste of time and energy, but she had to do it. I cannot be so dependent on him. I don't need him. I don't. I did, but this is now. I am stronger, better, and I will not be broken.

"I will not be broken. I am stronger than that. He destroyed me once. He burned my heart to cinders, but I was reborn from the ashes. I am the Firebird, the Phoenix of the Sea. I am General Visola Ramaris and I do not need him. I am strong. I am independent. I swam deep into the 'fathoms of forgiveness'," she quoted mockingly. Her voice was hoarse and scratchy from lack of use. Briefly, Visola wondered if Elandria ever had that problem. If she would wake up one day and never speak or sing again. But then, Visola wouldn't know. She had never been one to restrain herself. Every aspect of her being emanated her wildness, her lack of restrain, her raw exhilaration in battle. Her power. Even her words were frank and honest; she'd never bothered with the delicate intricacies of politics.

Slim fingers clenched into a fist; her nails digging into the flesh of her palms as her sheer determination seemed to reinforce her strength tenfold. Visola couldn't help but feel a certain masochistic joy in the pain. Masochistic is such a strong word, she mused. Especially considering my sadistic tendencies…I can't deny how fun torture is. Even when on the receiving end, it was a nice challenge. But I suppose he went easy on me. Love of his life and all the sappy nonsense.

But that changes nothing. I remember a word on this silly puzzle Trevain was doing. Paroxysm, it was called. He said it meant short, brutal and repeated attacks. Well Vachlan is a paroxysm to my heart. Like an emotional blitzkrieg, only a hundred times more devastating. He's attacked it several times, just like I've attacked his. Only, mine were just more….perceived than actual while his were very real. Too real and too close. But we weave such a vicious cycle between the two of us, and I think it's about damn time that stopped. Only how do you get out of something you're used to? Something you're comfortable with?

"I dove into them, and here I am," she continued. But her voice was softer now, barely a whisper. Yet, it carried emotion that she wished she could crush into a thousand pieces and scatter onto the corners of the Earth. "HERE I AM RIGHT BACK WHERE I STARTED! SO WHAT'S THE POINT OF IT ALL? I AM EXACTLY THE SAME, AND SO IS HE! NOTHING CHANGED EXCEPT NOW WE'RE NEAR EACH OTHER! I'M STILL ON THE SAME DAMNED EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER THAT CAN'T SEEM TO STOP! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME!" Visola shouted as loudly as she could, letting the force of her fury be known to the world. She let out a frustrated scream, wishing that all her yelling could make a difference. But all it did was widen the empty chasm in her heart. She still wished that screaming and crying actually worked. As far as she could tell, they worked about as well as diplomacy, which judging from the many wars, never worked. The emptiness was still there, and so was the aching longing to be near him. Damn.

"Nothing's changed, yet everything has…." The barely audible words left her dry and cracked lips as she stood where the land and the sea met in a violently beautiful chaos of blue-white sea foam splashing up into the air, contrasting brilliantly against the jagged and slippery rocks. She looked down at them; dared the ocean to make her slip and carve her open. She would lie disemboweled betwixt old and new, yin and yang, still undecided. Her blood would stain both realms as she lay there lifeless and limp. Broken, crushed, obliterated, destroyed, annihilated. Gone.

The land and the sea: living together yet worlds apart in people and ideas. The land, where she would be free, but alone, without her friends or family, without the comfort she sometimes longed for. It was a place that presented a whole realm of new problems that she was curious to take on. And the ocean that had always been her home, that had loved her and comforted her while challenging her to surpass herself; the place where her family was, the people who loved her unconditionally and fiercely.

"As if shouting to a probably dead prophet lady on drugs is going to help me," she said humorlessly without a trace of her trademark sarcastic witticisms. "He's still a barrel of piranhas. Actually, no. He is something infinitely more dangerous. He is my weakness…He always will be."

"I can argue that it goes both ways, V." His voice. Quiet, deadly. And utterly broken.

"Oh?" she tried to keep the cocky arrogant tone of usual, Visola really tried. She strove to make it seem like everything was fine, that she was fine. That he didn't affect her anymore. But it came out sounding the opposite of her intent. It showed him that everything wasn't fine. That no matter how much she tried and how much he might want to change, they could never break out of this cycle.

" 'Absence from those we love is self from self- a deadly banishment'," he spoke quietly. Visola frowned. It was wrong to hear him speak like that; it was wrong for him to sound so defeated and lost. And it was most definitely wrong for him to be quoting his admitted archenemy. Yet here he was. And here I am, too. Here we are, fighting again. It seems like that's all we ever do, now.

"I thought you hated Shakespeare." The inadequacy of her response hit like an enemy blow in the silence that followed. Visola hated silence even more than she hated weakness. Elandria's was a poignant, meaningful quiet and philosophical, but pure, absolute silence she despised. It mocked her, taunted her. It made her want to pull out her hair and scream loud and long even if there were nobody there to hear or reply. An answer without really answering…is it still an answer? But he is my greatest weapon. And like all weapons, he can be used against me. He is my favorite double-edged sword, my two pointed arrow. Such were the thoughts that she used, desperate to distract herself.

"I do." Visola turned then. Her eyes now opened, questions written across her face. She fought to keep her face expressionless as the conflict within her rose to unimaginable heights. It felt as if two warring armies were clashing violently inside her heart; one side wanted to embrace him, to comfort him, to fill the now empty void in his eyes. But there was another side too, a side of Visola that was bestial and fierce, the part of her that fought with glee and relished the bloodlust; the warrior that reveled in the fight. It was the fiery, dominant part of her soul that told her to be independent; that thrived on freedom and war.

"V…," her breath left her in a rush that hung misty in the air. The words that were teeming into her mind like a swarm of angry bees refused to follow like they should have. Her traitorous mouth would not shape the words that she wanted to say; her tongue was heavy and numb as if it was paralyzed by the overload of emotions coursing through her.

Visola looked at the ethereal cloud as it faded into the air as if it could provide an answer to this. As if it could save her, and him, from herself. The demonic winged insects' buzzing didn't diminish, instead mounting stronger with each passing heartbeat where the silence continued.

"Divorce isn't an option." Visola swallowed, suddenly feeling uncharacteristically nervous. How could she tell him that it was an option for her? That she considered it to be real? How could she explain that she needed it because she loved him?

"But it is, V," her lips formed the words automatically. But that wasn't what she wanted to say. It wasn't what she needed to say to him and it wasn't what he needed to hear. She needed to make him understand why she was thinking about it and why it had crossed her mind in the first place.

"Visola! You can't!" She closed her eyes. If I look at him now, I won't be able to do it. I won't be able to say why, and I won't be able to keep my resolve because it's going to hurt him. I don't want to hurt him, but staying this way can only make us both miserable. Maybe it's because he was gone so long, maybe it's because I screwed many, many random men while he wasn't there. And maybe it's because he broke me once, and I was never the same. But I know I miss the way I used to be, and this is too much too soon.

"We can't stay this way," she said, settling on a response. Maybe he'd understand from that.

"So you want a goddamned divorce?" he exclaimed. Don't do it, Viso. Don't open your eyes. You'll just melt like chocolate in the hot sun, and you are not chocolate. At the very least, you're dark chocolate, all bitter-like. An acquired taste, they call it. It would be nice to know if he's addicted to that taste, if he likes it.

"Maybe it's what I need!" she shouted, her eyes flying open and boring into his with a renewed fiery wrath. "Maybe, just maybe, I'm not ready to just jump into marriage again. And maybe you aren't either. You're volatile and I don't know if I can trust you with everything again."

"You don't…trust me?" he sounded shocked, wounded. Hurt. She wanted to run to him and kiss him and that would make everything all right again. But she couldn't. It wouldn't change a thing.

"I…Vachlan, you are my single greatest weapon in a fight. But weapons can be used against their owners. And you hurt me once before." The words rushed out like a river falling from the mountain cliff in a torrential downpour of water. "I can't stay like this because then I'll spend my days being a miserable, nagging wife and we'll both be equally unhappy and insane. Something needs to change with us."

"I know." He fell to his knees, his head in his hands. Seeing him like that, seeing her strong, stubborn husband like that, in such a vulnerable position was so wrong. It was wrong seeing him broken down like this. "But I can't let you go. I refuse to lose you again. I left once, and it was the worst thing I've ever done. I won't let you make the same mistake." Visola smiled though she was feeling anything but happy. It was actually rather sweet that he considered leaving her the worst thing when he had conquered half the world twice.

"I don't want to lose you either, but it isn't about what we want. It's about what we need." The cursed prickling sensation started in her eyes. I will not cry. I swore to myself that I would never cry over a man again, and I'm not about to break that vow. I can't cry, even if it will show him that I still care.

"We don't need a divorce." Instead of the forceful masculine tones Visola expected, a voice devoid of all emotion met her ears. She looked at him, stunned. Was he crying? Dear Sedna, I made him cry. I can't do this, but I have to.

"Vachlan, I cannot live without you, but I can't live with you either. I keep thinking that I'll wake up in the morning and you'll be gone, and I can't live like that. I'm too dependent on you for my own good," Visola knelt next to him.

"And you think that I don't have the same problem?" His head snapped up, and she smirked as she saw the blazing emotions in his eyes. She had missed seeing his passion, as she had missed reading his writing.

"No, I'm saying that I'm more intimately acquainted with my independence than you are with yours," she replied, leaning on his shoulder. Visola couldn't help it, she needed him more than the oxygen she needed to survive, more than fighting itself. He sighed and wrapped his arms around her.

"How about us being independent together?" he offered after a while. They sat on the rocks, drenched yet perfectly content in the chaotic meeting of two opposite worlds. The crashing of the water pounding away at unmoving land seemed to have a calming effect on her. How odd it is that I find that noise calming? And what are the odds of us just sitting here like this again? Everything else aside, I'm perfectly content here. It's like being right at this place while in his arms makes everything feel so much better.

"Words that start with 'v' that make me happy," she said aloud, sighing. Things might not change that drastically, but this feels nicer. Different, but nicer. Sedna, I hope I'm not turning into some sort of kelp-plant.

To his credit, he answered instantly. And correctly.

"Vachlan and Visola. Together."